2nd Extraordinary Session of the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC),13-15 April 2016, Lusaka, Zambia
2nd Extraordinary Session of the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC),13-15 April 2016, Lusaka, Zambia
2nd Extraordinary Session of the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)
13-15 April 2016
The 2nd Extraordinary Session of the 2nd Permanent General Assembly of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) was held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Lusaka, Zambia from 13-15 April 2016.
PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
The objectives of the Extraordinary Session included the following:
1. To initiate the process of amending the relevant Statutes of ECOSOCC in accordance with the advice of the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission; and in fulfilment of the directive of Assembly Decision 4 (XVII); regarding the relocation of the Secretariat of ECOSOCC from the AU Commission to Lusaka, Zambia.
2. To define the structural and financial requirements of a fully-fledged Secretariat in Zambia; in accordance with advice received on same.
3. To discuss the interim arrangements as discussed.
The Bureau and Standing Committee of ECOSOCC, as well as service staff of the AU Commission from CIDO, the Bureau of the Chairperson of the Commission, the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, the Department of Administration and Human Resource Management, the Office of the Legal Counsel of the Commission, and the Department of Program, Budgeting, Finance and Accounting attended the meeting.
AGENDA AND WORK PROGRAMME
The meeting began with the adoption of the agenda and Work Program as contained in Annex I.
The opening ceremony received four main presentations from Ambassador Jalel Chelba, Head of the Civil Society Division of the Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO); Mr. Joseph Chilengi, Presiding Officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the AU (ECOSOCC); Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe, Special Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and the Honorable Harry Kalaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Zambia who represented the President of the Republic, HE Edgar Chagwa Lungu. The Head of Public Relations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his Opening Statement, Ambassador Chelba, in his capacity as Representative of the ECOSOCC Secretariat, observed that following the designation of CIDO as the Secretariat of ECOSOCC as per Article 14 of the ECOSOCC Statutes, the Secretariat had strived to popularize the agenda and priorities of ECOSOCC through the technical departments and policy offices of the African Union Commission, in addition to implementing a campaign to build the profile and visibility of the organs within the member states and in the African diaspora.
Ambassador Chelba called on ECOSOCC to take steps to develop its overall strategic plan and to complete the operationalization of all of its sectorial clusters. The Ambassador stressed that these steps would help position ECOSOCC to more effectively engage its civil society constituents both on the continent and beyond, and, importantly, to serve notice to member states of a strong and vibrant organ that is fully cognizant of its role and retains the capacity to deliver on its mandate as an advisory organ. Finally, he reiterated the readiness of the current Secretariat at CIDO to work in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders in order to accomplish the transition of the Secretariat to Lusaka in accordance with the Decision of the AU Assembly.
In his remarks, Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe, Special Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, noted that the offer to host the ECOSOCC Secretariat demonstrated the great pan-African spirit of the Republic of Zambia, and was a reflection of the openness, stability and commitment to civil society that it embodied. He emphasized that the full and active participation of civil society has been central to the African Union Commission since its inception, and commended ECOSOCC for its role in engaging the entire range of non-state actors in fulfillment of the commitment of the Constitutive Act of the African Union to create a people-centered and people-driven organization. Ambassador Kapambwe urged the participants to reflect on the significance of the meeting being held in Lusaka given that city’s history as a continental and regional centre of diplomacy and peace-building. Finally he reiterated the support of the AU Commission, particularly the Bureau of the Chairperson of the Union, to provide all the assistance required to ensure a smooth and seamless transition of the ECOSOCC Secretariat to Lusaka.
In turn, the Presiding Officer of the ECOSOCC, Mr. Joseph Chilengi, underlined the importance of carrying out the requisite measures to ensure a timely execution of the AU Assembly Decision to relocate the Secretariat of ECOSOCC to Zambia. He referred specifically to a 3-step process including the identification of the critical and immediate priorities relating to the legal, structural and financial implications of the relocation, followed by an evaluation mission and the presentation of a detailed report to the Executive Council of the Union at its next session in July 2016.
Mr.Chilengi also paid tribute to the immediate past Director of CIDO and Head of the ECOSOCC Secretariat, Dr. Jinmi Adisa, for his pioneering role in the revitalization of ECOSOCC and his leadership and support to help elevate the organ to its current position.The Presiding Officer reiterate the resolve of ECOSOCC to fulfil its responsibilities to the relocation process and urged the cooperation and support of the African Union Commission as well as the Republic of Zambia to ensure a successful and expedited process of transition in fulfilment of the AU Assembly Decision.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia, the Honorable Harry Kalala, in his keynote address, expressed the appreciation of the government and people of Zambia to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government for its decision to approve the relocation of the ECOSOCC Secretariat to Lusaka, and welcomed the prompt mobilization of the relevant actors within AU Commission and ECOSOCC to initiate the process of implementing the AU Assembly Decision. The Minister noted that the decision by the African Union to transfer the ECOSOCC Headquarters to Lusaka constituted a clear manifestation of the importance the continental body attaches to African unity; noting that Zambia, offers a peaceful, stable and enabling environment conducive for the day-to-day operations of such a critical AU Institution as ECOSOCC.
Honorable Kalala announced a 10-acre plot of land has been donated as a gift from the government and people of Zambia to house a new state-of-the-art Secretariat building complex, which is to be constructed at no cost to the African Union Commission. The Minister added that two temporary office sites have been procured to host the temporary Secretariat while construction of the permanent offices are being carried out. The Minister assured of the determination of the Government of Zambia to support all the relevant processes related to the transition of the ECOSOCC Secretariat to Lusaka.
VISITS TO PRESIDENT AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA
The Standing Committee and AU Commission delegationwere also received in audience by the President of the Republic of Zambia, HE Edgar Chagwa Lungu; and the founding President of the Republic HE Kenneth David Kaunda. Both leaders welcomed the Decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government for accepting the bid by Zambia to host the ECOSOCC Secretariat and reiterated the commitment of the people and government of Zambia to provding all the necessary support required to ensure a smooth and timely transition.
VISITS TO PROPOSED SITES FOR THE ECOSOCC SECRETARIAT
The delegation paid a visit to two venues in Lusaka designated as options for the interim offices of the ECOSOCC Secretariat. The principal site was located in the Government House; and the alternative location was the Mukuba Pension House.
The delegation also had the opportunity to view the plot of land donated by the Government of Zambia for the permanent Secretariat building.
SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS
I. Briefing by Ambassador Chalwe Lombe, The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia on the support of the Government of Zambia:
• The Zambian government is committed to ensuring an enabling environment for the operations of the relocated Secretariat and to commit additional resources as needed to support the Secretariat’s operations. The government of Zambia has constituted a standing committee to work on the hosting responsibilities and to undertake resource mobilization. The Permanent Secretary recalled that both temporary and permanent sites have been procured to host the relocated Secretariat in Lusaka. He further informed that the state-of-the-art Secretariat complex will be located within the newly designated diplomatic triangle, adjacent to other diplomatic institutions and international conference centers.
• The Presiding Officer called for dialogue between the Government of Zambia, the African Union and ECOSOCC to ensure the successful relocation of the Secretariat to Lusaka.
• He called for the meeting to produce the necessary recommendations to guide the next steps in the transition process.
II. Briefing by Ambassador Susan Sikaneta on the Process Leading the Application and Approval of the Relocation of the Secretariat to Lusaka:
• It was highlighted in ECOSOCC Report to the Summit of 2015 in Johannesburg that it was time for the ECOSOCC Secretariat needed to transition from the AUC to stand on its own in order to more effectively deliver on its mandate.
• A PRC sub-committee was formed at the same Summit to ensure the equitable geographical distribution of AU organs and institutions.
• The government then submitted an application to the AU Commission for Zambia to host ECOSOCC. Subsequent consultations were undertaken with relevant AUC departments leading to the presentation of a concept note to justify Zambia’s capacity to host the organ.
• The matter was tabled for the consideration of the AU Summit in January 2016; and the application was approved at PRC, Executive Council and AU Assembly.
• The Ambassador assured of the support of the highest levels of the Zambian government.
III. Briefing by Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe on the Deliberations of the AUC Interdepartmental Taskforce on the Relocation of ECOSOCC:
• The Decision urged Zambia to work with the AUC regarding the legal structural and financial implications of relocating the Secretariat to Lusaka.
• Also requested that an appropriate evaluation mission and a detailed report to be submitted to the ExCl at the Summit in July 2016.
• The meeting also called on outstanding Ecosocc issues including the completion of the process to institute the General Assembly.
• Requested a report from ECOSOCC to the Summit in July 2016.
• The interdepartmental report focused on the relocation to Zambia, particularly the legal, structural and financial implications.
• Chief of this, to determine what the residual functions of CIDO and what part of CIDO needs to be separated to accompany the Secretariat in Lusaka. This includes the size, functions and levels of staff needed for the Secretariat.
• There is also an outstanding request from the General Assembly to review the entire Statutes of ECOSOCC to determine what amendments are needed. The meeting therefore needs to make amendments only for the relocation; or to develop a comprehensive approach to include the entire set of Statutes.
• Such amendments must be submitted to the STC on justice and legal affairs; their next meeting will be in November 2016.
• The interdepartmental meeting also reviewed the structural requirements for the Secretariat; recognizing that there is no dedicated structure currently in place within CIDO. It was recommended that a completely new structure be drawn up for ECOSOCC; as part of an ongoing WB-funded restructuring project. Such a structure would then be presented to PRC for consideration.
• The new structure also needs to take into consideration added responsibilities brought on by multiple Decisions and strategic plans that have come into force since the initial development of the ECOSOCC statutes.
• The interdepartmental meeting also reviewed the financial constraints and access to the 2016 ECOSOCC budget. It was recommended that due to matters that require completion and reporting by the July summit, it was necessary for the AUC to do all that is possible to secure and release funds for ECOSOCC to complete its critical activities.
• The AU Commission additionally made a recommendation to review the issuance of AU passports and laissez-passers to staff of AU organs. However a decision has been made that everyone who has held an AU passport/laissez-passer and which is now expired will have them renewed.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE RELOCATION OF THE ECOSOCC SECRETARIAT
• The rules of procedure of the Assembly and Executive Council allows for member states to propose items for consideration.
• The government of Zambia used this provision to propose the hosting of ECOSOCC; which was then considered by the Permanent Representative Council and the Executive Council and the AU Assembly; leading to the Decision to welcome and fully support the relocation of the Secretariat.
• The comprehensive report should be on the evaluation mission is to be submitted to the July 2016 summit, however a progress report can be submitted on the legal structural and financial implications.
• There is precedent for the relocation of Secretariats of AU organs from the AU Commission to other countries.
• In terms of implications, the legal implications are the least complicated, relative to the structural and financial implications.
• The first step is to introduce amendments of the ECOSOCC statutes, in order to have it aligned with the Assembly as the Supreme Organ of the AU.
• Therefore Article 14 of the Statutes needs to be amended; in addition to the relevant sections of the Rules of Procedure adopted at the Cairo General Assembly with refer to the location of the Secretariat.
• There also has to be reference to a host agreement to be agreed between the AU and the host country.
• As per practice the STC on Justice and Legal Affairs would need to look at amendments, just to consider the form, but not the substance; given that the amendments followed an Assembly Decision. The STC is scheduled to meet in October 2016; and it’s unlikely to be able to brought forward given existing commitments.
• Implied amendments: when the Assembly, simply by deciding, has already amended the Statutes. Expressed Amendments is when the decision needs to be followed by review and consideration by the STC on Justice and Legal Affairs.
• With regard to amendment of the overall set of Statutes, the preferred option would the comprehensive approach; even though the 2-phase approach is also legitimate. The comprehensive approach would take no less than year to complete, whereas the 2-phase approach will be shorter.
• Since the government of Zambia has already taken some actions to facilitate the transition; and also during the consideration of the item during the Assembly, it was made clear that the assembly expected an expedited process; it is the opinion of the OLC that some actions can be undertaken prior to the completion of the amendments to the ECOSOCC Statutes.
• The second legal implication involves the host agreement to be agreed between Zambia and the AU to spell out the privileges, immunities and obligations of both parties. The obligation of the host government is to provide a fully equipped Secretariat; even though it is often encouraged to make additional provisions such as residence for the head of the secretariat.
• Salaries and operational costs are the obligation of the AU; however it does not prevent the host government from assuming these costs on a voluntary basis.
• The conclusion of the host agreement is typically not a complicated process.
• The only issue is the timeline for the conclusion of the host agreement. In the opinion of the OLC it should be after the consideration of the detailed evaluation reports by the Assembly. The negotiation can begin immediately, however the signing should be after the Assembly has reviewed and approved the detailed evaluation report.
• Another consideration is the date for the relocation to take place. The OLC indicated this timeline is elastic and dependent on the resolution of other issues. These include establishment of a structure, starting with an interim structure composed of core staff, while the longer-term process for the permanent structure is being carried out.
• Another element is the secondment of staff to the interim structure, either from the government of the host country or partner institutions. The salaries of the seconded staff are paid by the seconding institutions. The drawback to the secondment arrangement is the lack of a structure and job description to ensure people with the appropriate skills are seconded. Another challenge is that member states expect that seconded staff would turn into permanent staff during the recruitment process for the permanent secretariat. Thirdly, in some cases there are inappropriate qualification levels – either too senior or too junior – in the seconded positions. A fourth element involves the transfer of officers from the Commission to the interim secretariat, though this implies additional costs given that DSAs need to paid to the transferred staff.
• The OLC cautioned that even the interim arrangement needs to be a credible arrangement, since there is a risk for complications if the proper processes are not followed. This can result in the loss of credibility to the entire relocation process.
• In terms of financial implications, other hosting governments have made voluntary contributions for the first few years while the process is normalized. The funds are then transferred to the AU to fund salaries of Secretariat staff until the entire process is concluded.
• The OLC urged close collaboration between ECOSOCC, CIDO, AHRM and the PRC since a slip from any of these collaborators would impact the feasibility of the relocation process. Such collaboration should be carried out at the appropriate senior levels to mobilize political will.
• OLC also advised that the selection of premises involve relevant service departments including Security, Protocol, Administration and the Office of the Secretary General of the Commission.
• In terms of the way forward,
1. The OLC advised that the government of Zambia, the AU Commission and ECOSOCC needs unity of action at the appropriate levels to carry out the practical measures required to complete the relocation process.
2. The most important key is to select the interim structure that has the best chance for sustainability.
3. The stakeholders also need to commit to tentative timeframes in order to move the process along the requisite benchmarks.
4. Practice indicates that a phased-in approach is necessary; since it would likely require a long period of time to have all the necessary pieces in place.
5. Time is of the essence in ensuring the immediate next steps are undertaken to ensure that process has a chance of concluding in time.
STRUCTURAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE RELOCATION OF THE ECOSOCC SECRETARIAT
• The Department of Administration and Human Resources Management (AHRM) made a presentation to the meeting regarding the ongoing restructuring project of the AU Commission and AU Organs, including ECOSOCC.
• Recommended that input be sought from all relevant stakeholders to develop the final structure, including civil society, RECs and member states.
• Recommended that ECOSOCC develop a 5-year strategic plan aligned with the AU Agenda 2063; which will then serve to inform the structure to be developed for the ECOSOCC Secretariat.
• Recommended that ECOSOCC work in close collaboration of the consulting firm recruited for the AU Restructuring project in order to co-develop a structure for ECOSOCC.
• Recommended that ECOSOCC prioritize a core set of positions to start with
as the full structure will be recruited incrementally over a multi-year period.
IMPLICATIONS OF AUSTERITY MEASURES ON AU ORGANS
• The ECOSOCC Presiding Officer highlighted that ECOSOCC was different from other organs in that all of its program – many of which are statutory obligations – are funded under the member state’s General Fund; meaning that the application of austerity measures affect it more severely than other organs.
• The Office of the Chairperson urged Standing Committee members to lobby their member states to make their assessed contributions on time.
• The BCP proposed that every quarter the Secretariat circulate the information on which member states are outstanding to SC members in order that ECOSOCC can engage and encourage their member states to make their contributions. He further called for a communication strategy to make the AU more visible within the member states in order to improve the rate of payment of assessed contributions; and urged ECOSOCC to be foot soldiers in this communication effort.
• The BCP also recalled that various options for alternative resource development are underway, including a hospitality tax, an air travel tax as well as the Panel on Illicit Financial Flows headed by former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. These initiatives, if implemented, would raise large amounts of funds for the African Union, and ECOSOCC has a central role to play in terms of advocacy and engagement of their member states.
• The Office of the BCP also informed that the EU, through the College-to-College meeting, has accepted to put the issue of illicit financial flows on their agenda. Additionally, China, the host of the upcoming G20 Summit, has been asked place the issue on the agenda of the Summit. Likewise, licit but immoral agreements also need to be addressed; including agreements that force sovereign national reserves in foreign banks. Member states have been urged to deposit a minimum of 10% of their sovereign national reserves into the African Development Bank; which would raise 50billion dollars for development capital. ECOSOCC can campaign and sensitize on the continental level to ensure that these imbalances are addressed.
• It was decided that the representative of the BDCP would engage the DCP and Deputy Chief of Staff to explore ways of raising the 25% limit on the release of the General Fund for ECOSOCC activities.
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY FOR ECOSOCC:
The Chairman of the Infrastructure and Energy Cluster, Dr. Raj Gowtam, presented a newly developed communication strategy for the Bureau and Standing Committee of ECOSOCC. The presentation and its recommendations were adopted by the meeting.
BriefingsThe opening sessions and the field visit scheduled on the first day were followed by five working sessions over a two day period. The working sessions included briefings by each of (1) The Government of Zambia on the support and preparation of the relocation of the secretariat, (2) the Bureau of the chairperson on the AUC interdepartmental taskforce on the relocation of the ECOSOCC secretariat, (3) The Office of the Legal counsel (OLC) on the Legal implications of the relocation, (4) the Administration, Human Resource Department (AHRM) on the structural implication and (5) the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson (DCP) on the austerity measures introduced by the commission .CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The working sessions concluded on 15 April 2016 with the following conclusions and recommandations
PART ONE: RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RELOCATION OF THE ECOSOCC SECRETARIAT TO LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
Section A: On the Legal Implications of the Relocation of the ECOSOCC Secretariat
1. The meeting agreed that the recommendations set forth by the Office of the Legal Counsel be adopted in terms of the next steps of initiating the practical next steps in implementing the Assembly Decision. Specifically, the Office of the Legal Counsel made the following recommendations:
a. That the government of Zambia, the AU Commission and ECOSOCC work closely at the appropriate levels to carry out the practical measures required to complete the relocation process. This unity of purpose and action is critical in order to ensure that the process benefits from all of the required support and cooperation from the three major partners in the process.
b. That the Standing Committee take steps to agree on the interim structure for the new Secretariat. The OLC advised that the selection be informed by in-depth consideration of all the various options in order to select the one that best responds to the specific requirements of ECOSOCC and offers the best chance for sustainability.
c. That all three stakeholders commit to tentative timeframes in order to move the process along requisite benchmarks.
d. That the relocation of the Secretariat employ a phased-in approach. The OLC advised that this approach is necessary since practice suggests that it would likely require a long period of time to complete all the necessary elements of the transition, including the amendments, the adoption of a new structure, and recruitment of staff.
e. The OLC advised that the next steps be taken in a timely and proactive manner in order to ensure that process has a chance of concluding in time
2. The meeting further recommended that outgoing members of the Standing Committee be invited to attend the General Assembly in order to hand over their caseload to the incoming Standing Committee elected at the General Assembly; for the purposes of ensuring a smooth and effective transition of the ECOSOCC work agenda.
3. In addition, the meeting agreed that the proposed new structure of the ECOSOCC Secretariat integrate new capacities to conduct and publish research, given that the principal mandate of ECOSOCC is to provide advice to the AU on technical issues.
4. The meeting further recommended that the terms of office of Standing Committee members be extended to 4 years from the current 2 years.
5. In addition, it was recommended that members of the Standing Committee be granted the right to vote at the General Assembly and to be eligible for a second 4-year term of office.
6. The meeting recommended that a structural organigram be developed to encapsulate the new positions to be established within the new Secretariat.
7. The meeting also agreed that the proposed comprehensive amendments to the ECOSOCC Statutes need to be presented to the members of the ECOSOCC General Assembly and African civil society at large for their input before the proposed amendments are submitted to the policy making organs.
8. With regard to the detailed report to be submitted to the Executive Council in July 2016, it was recommended that the proposed comprehensive amendments be included but only with the purpose of informing and notifying the Executive Council that these amendments are to be presented to the General Assembly and wider civil society for their consideration before being returned to the policy organs for approval.
9. The meeting further recommended that additional efforts be made to engage the Chairperson of the AU Commission in order to build the necessary cooperation required to work towards the implementation of the AU Decision on relocation.
Section B: Structural Implications of Relocation of ECOSOCC Secretariat to Lusaka, Zambia.
10. The meeting recommended that input be sought from all relevant stakeholders to develop the final structure, including civil society, RECs and member states. The meeting emphasized that the structure must support the role of ECOSOCC within all of these external stakeholders.
11. The meeting further agreed that ECOSOCC is to develop a 5-year strategic plan aligned with the AU Agenda 2063; which will then serve to inform the structure to be developed for the ECOSOCC Secretariat.
12. It was further recommended that the Standing Committee assign roles and responsibilities for the major elements of the proposed Secretariat. These focal points will then engage with the consultant in order to develop the staffing structure for the Secretariat.
13. It was additionally recommended that ECOSOCC work in close collaboration with the consulting firm recruited for the AU Restructuring project in order to co-develop a structure for ECOSOCC.
14. Finally, the meeting recommended that ECOSOCC prioritize a core set of positions to start with as the full structure will be recruited incrementally over a multi-year period.
PART TWO: RECOMMENDATIONS ON OTHER ECOSOCC MATTERS
Section C: On the Austerity Measures and its Implication on ECOSOCC.
15. The meeting recalled that while ECOSOCC had been involved in the alternative mobilization of funds, the organ is currently not represented on the relevant bodies that are currently charged with implementing that agenda. It was therefore recommended that ECOSOCC be brought onto the various continental platforms, including the Panel on Illicit Financial Flows, in order to add value and to effectively play their role in advocacy and communication.
16. The meeting further recommended that the African Union Commission take steps to release information on member states who have not paid their dues to ECOSOCC in order for the organ to engage member states.
17. While recognizing the challenging financial situation of the African Union Commission as presented by the Office of the Chairperson of the Commission, it was recommended that ECOSOCC sectorial cluster committees continue to prepare their activities as per the approved 2016 budget; while the political leadership of ECOSOCC engage their counterparts at the AU Commission to find to reach an agreement for the release of funds.
Section D: On ECOSOCC Budget and Resource Development
18. The meeting recommended that approval be sought from the Executive Council to seek external funding beyond the approved budget; in accordance with the Statutes.
19. It was further recommended that ECOSOCC dedicate more attention to resource development from within the African private sector, particularly through the national chapters.
20. As an extension to the above point, the meeting recommended that ECOSOCC engage the African Union Foundation to identify ways of supporting and benefiting from the resource development of that Foundation. Additionally, the meeting was made aware of the African Development Forum has also being instituted as a flagship AU project, the first one of which will be held in Mauritius from 3-5 June 2016 bringing together African private sector and academics to meet with heads of state. The event was recommended as another platform of engagement for ECOSOCC to support resource development for the organ.
21. The meeting agreed to appeal to the Ambassador of Zambia to convince her colleagues in PRC to help increase member state contributions, and additionally to mobilize support within PRC not to penalize ECOSOCC for low budget execution since this was due to the imposition of austerity measures by the Commission.
Section E: On Operationalization of ECOSOCC Clusters
22. The meeting recommended that the operationalization of all five remaining clusters would be held at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
23. The meeting agreed that the Secretariat will ascertain the availability of funds from the Department of Programs, Budgeting, Finance and Accounting (PBFA) in order to communicate the earliest possible dates for the operationalization of the remaining clusters.